September is National Gum Care Month!

We know that gingivitis, the early stage of periodontal disease, can be difficult to recognize. Many people don’t realize that bleeding and swollen gums are a precursor to gum disease. This month, a national campaign is under way to raise awareness about gum health and periodontal disease, and we wanted to help do our part to spread the word.

Dr. Glass and Cindie will tell you early recognition and action are the most important steps to healthy gums, and ultimately a healthy body! Studies are published every year linking oral health to the overall health of your body. Studies have directly linked heart disease and diabetes to oral health. One of the most important steps to improving the care of your gums is recognizing the warning signs for gum disease. These include:
– Gums that appear red or swollen
– Gums that feel tender
– Gums that bleed easily (while brushing or flossing)
– Gums that recede or pull away from the teeth
– Persistent halitosis (bad breath)
– Loose teeth
– Any change in the way teeth come together in the biting position

If you happen to notice any of these signs with you or your child, or if it has been longer than 6 months since your last cleaning please call today to schedule an appointment. It is important to take proactive steps to prevent gingivitis and gum disease.

Keep Smiling All Summer Long!

If you are like most families, during the summer months your schedule can get a little crazy! We wait all year for the warm weather activities that we love, but that can mean eating right and maintaining good oral hygiene goes to the bottom of the list. Here are a few tips that will help you protect your family’s oral health this summer.

Don’t forget to brush!
Brushing twice a day and flossing daily is as important in the summer as it is any other time of the year. With vacations, kids away at camp and lots of days spent on the go, don’t be surprised if you frequently need to remind your kids to brush and floss.
Now is a great time to buy new toothbrushes to replace the old, worn out or “germy” ones. In fact, tossing a few disposable tooth brushes into your hand bag along with some travel sized toothpaste is a convenient way to always be hygienically prepared, particularly if your kids are in orthodontics!

Schedule your check-ups early!
Parents tend to schedule dental checkups in August, right before school starts. Keep in mind our schedule can get backed up so it’s best to plan ahead and get your family in while your schedule (and ours) might be a little more flexible!

Keep your kitchen well stocked
Keep the summer from being a sugary free for all by investing in healthy snacks. It’s hard to limit snacking when the kids are home all day, but with the availability of fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables, you can stock the fridge with healthy options. Be sure to keep the fruits and veggies clean and ready to grab on the go. It’s much easier to keep your dental health in check when your family is reaching for blueberries and strawberries instead of candy and cookies. Be sure to swap out the sugary, acidic soft drinks, juices and energy drinks with bottled water.

Prevent Dental Emergencies
It wouldn’t be summer without lots of swimming, bike riding, sports and other playground activities. While these are great fun, they can occasionally result in a dental injury. Parents can prevent the worst by following these tips:
• Make sure your kids follow the “pool rules.” According to the Academy of General Dentistry, many of the summer oral injuries dentists treat are due to a pool accident. Running on slippery pool decks, diving into shallow waters or bumping the pool ledge with their mouth causes many children to either chip or knock a tooth loose.
• Wear protective mouth guards when playing any type of sport. They not only help protect your teeth from getting knocked out or broken, but many mouth guards offer a level of protection against concussion.

Have fun and keep smiling all summer!

Are 6 month dental cleanings really necessary?

Your dentist says your teeth look great but wants to see you back in 6 months for a cleaning and check up. Your spouse also doesn’t have any cavities, but the dentist wants to see them 4 times per year. So what gives? How often do you really need to get a checkup?

The fact of the matter is, there is no magic number of visits you should schedule per year. The industry standard dictates that for most healthy patients twice per year is optimal, however if you are prone to periodontal issues you may require more frequent cleanings to maintain optimal oral health. Dental cleanings remove built-up plaque, the daily debris that we keep under control with proper brushing. Plaque can encourage the growth of harmful bacteria that cause periodontal or gum disease, an infection of the tissue that holds your teeth in place. With time, teeth may loosen and be in danger of falling out. Smoking, systemic diseases including diabetes, pregnancy, and the use of oral contraceptives can all increase the risk of gum disease. If your gums bleed when you clean your teeth, or are tender, swollen or red, see a dentist immediately.

Timing of dental visits can also be driven by your insurance plan, if you have one. There are people we want to see every three to four months, but their coverage is lacking so they ask to stretch the check-ups out a bit, but it isn’t wise to let insurance dictate treatment. Periodontal issues can advance quickly if left un-treated and the result can be devastating and irreversible.

With growing evidence linking oral health with general health, only you , your hygienist and your dentist can determine how many visits are best. As a general rule, go a minimum of twice per year, but more frequently if you have specific problems. Our best tip for reducing trips to the dental chair? Keep on flossing.

Do you suffer from Dry Mouth? You are not alone!

Dry mouth, also known as Xerostomia, is associated with salivary gland hypofunction where there is a reduced amount of salivary output. Many people with this condition are un-aware that it means more than just mouth discomfort or bad breath. Saliva is essential to lubricate and protect our teeth, tongue and tissues. It aids in chewing, swallowing and digesting food and also protects our teeth from decay. Saliva is 98% water but the other 2% is made up of essential electrolytes, mucous, antibacterial components and various enzymes. When we aren’t producing an adequate amount of saliva to lubricate the mouth, and neutralize the acids produced by plaque we become more prone to cavities.

Many people are at risk for having dry mouth, but are unaware that it can create an unhealthy environment for your mouth. In many cases, people that suffer from dry mouth are experiencing a side effect from some common prescription medications such as antihistamines, decongestants, anti depressants and high blood pressure medications. It may also be a sign of a disease such as poorly controlled diabetes or other systemic conditions such as anxiety, stress or dehydration. As harmless as dry mouth may seem, it is not a condition to be overlooked. Some common problems with dry mouth include a burning sensation, problems speaking, difficulty swallowing, oral infections, gum disease, bad breath and tooth decay. A dry mouth also irritates the soft tissues in the mouth making them more susceptible to infection. Without the cleansing effect of saliva oral health problems become more common.

If you suffer from Dry Mouth there are ways to manage the ill effects and protect your teeth from suffering decay as a result of lack of saliva production.

• Drink water frequently and sip on water throughout the day.
• Suck on sugar free candy or chew sugar free gum, gum containing xylitol can help stimulate salivary flow while preventing cavities.
• Avoid mouth rinses that contain alcohol and avoid alcoholic beverages because they increase dry mouth. There are mouth rinses on the market that are made specifically for patients that suffer from Dry Mouth.
• Limit intake of salty and spicy foods
• Quit smoking
• Use a soft bristle toothbrush and brush your teeth at least twice a day or after every meal and use a toothpaste containing fluoride.
• Floss your teeth daily
• Most importantly, visit us at least twice a year to ensure your mouth is in good shape. If you are more prone to decay due to your dry mouth, catching and taking care of cavities early can prevent more costly and painful procedures down the road. To ensure maximum protection we may recommend a prescription toothpaste with a higher fluoride content to keep your teeth strong and aid in the prevention of cavities.

The Buzz about Xylitol

Xylitol is a naturally occurring sugar alcohol found in fibrous vegetables and fruits, corn cobs and hardwood trees (like birch). It is used worldwide as a low-calorie sweetener, and has been clinically proven to reduce cavities and help prevent tooth decay and gum disease.
Our bodies make up to 15 grams (four teaspoons) of xylitol daily. It looks, feels and tastes like ordinary sugar (sucrose), but has 40 percent fewer calories and 75 percent fewer carbohydrates than sugar. Additionally, xylitol is not easily converted to fat and has almost no effect on insulin levels, making it a great alternative for diabetics and dieters and also is considered safe for pregnant and nursing women, babies and children.
We all know eating sugar causes tooth decay by creating an acidic condition in the mouth. Acidity strips minerals from tooth enamel, causing it to weaken and be more vulnerable to bacteria, leading to tooth decay or demineralization.
So, how does Xylitol help? Bacteria is unable to metabolize xylitol and therefore won’t produce the acids responsible for demineralization and decay. Secondly, xylitol interferes with bacterial polysaccharide formation, which significantly reduces the adhesive capabilities of the bacteria. The bacteria literally lose their main mechanisms to cause dental havoc! In addition, xylitol stimulates saliva which is beneficial to the neutral alkaline levels in your mouth.
To help prevent cavities, you need approximately six to eight grams of xylitol taken (chewed or ingested) throughout the day. If used only occasionally or just once a day, xylitol may not be effective, regardless of the amount. Use xylitol at least three times each day – five times is preferable – for at least five minutes right after meals and snacks. Between meals, opt for xylitol-sweetened products that encourage chewing/sucking to keep the xylitol in contact with your teeth. The xylitol effect is long lasting and possibly permanent. So go ahead… chew gum, use breath mints, just make sure they contain xylitol!

Your Evolving Toothbrush

If you are following your dentist’s advice, you are using your toothbrush faithfully twice per day, but how often do you actually think about the tool you are using? We thought it would be fun to explore how your toothbrush has evolved over the years.

It is believed that toothbrushing tools date back as far as 3000 BC when the Babylonians and the Egyptians made a brush by fraying the end of a twig and scraping their teeth. Tombs of ancient egyptians have been found containing “tooth sticks” alongside their owners.

Around 1600 BC the Chinese developed “chewing sticks” which were made from aromatic tree twigs to freshen breath. It was also the Chinese who, in the 15th century, were thought to have developed the first natural bristle toothbrush resembling what we still use today. They attached the bristles from a pig’s neck to a bone or bamboo handle and used the tool to clean their teeth. When it was brought from China to Europe, this design was adapted and often used softer horsehair. Some early European toothbrushes even used feathers as bristles. The first toothbrush of a more modern design with 3 rows of bristles was introduced in 1844 in England.

Natural bristles made way to the more modern bristles in 1938 when DuPont invented nylon. By the 1950’s the bristles became even softer followed by the first electric toothbrush in 1960.

Over its long history, the toothbrush has evolved to become a scientifically designed tool using modern ergonomic designs and safe and hygienic materials that optimize your oral health. Some more advanced electric toothbrushes are so smart they can tell us if we are brushing too hard, or not enough, they can time us and some can even communicate directly with your dentist! Today’s sonic toothbrushes are so powerful they deliver more brushstrokes in 2 minutes than a manual toothbrush can deliver in one month! They are able to remove far more plaque and bacteria from below the gum line and between the teeth than brushing and flossing alone. We offer a variety of models of electric toothbrushes for purchase in our office at a discount to you.
To find out which toothbrush would most benefit your oral health, talk to Cindie or Dr. Glass at your next visit!

It’s New Year’s Resolution Time!

The time is fast approaching for us to make our New Year’s Resolutions. We all know the most common resolutions people make (and break), but here is one more argument for why “Exercise More” should remain on your resolution list!

There is no disputing that exercise is good for us, but did you also know that regular exercise can reduce your risk of contracting Gum Disease? In a recent Journal of Periodontology study, researchers found that individuals who work out regularly and maintain a healthy weight are 40% less likely to develop gum disease. Gum disease, (also known as Periodontal Disease) is an inflammation of the gums caused by harmful bacteria in the mouth. It can lead to tooth loss if left untreated. Regular exercise is known to reduce inflammation in your body, including your mouth. Exercise also helps improve digestion and can help your body make the best use of the nutrients you consume, protecting your mouth and your overall health.

Fitness can greatly contribute to dental health and your quality of life. It can help you manage stress, improve your mood and give you more energy. If you haven’t already added exercise to your list of resolutions, we encourage you to do so.

Prevention Magazine offers these 3 tips for making exercise a habit you can stick with:

  1. Do activities you enjoy. You’ll stick with it if its something you want to do.
  2. Commit to another person. Work out with someone else. If that’s not possible report your own efforts to someone who cares about you. You can also join a social website where registered users report in on their successes and offer each other support.
  3. Reward yourself. Sometimes the best way to challenge yourself to stick with something new is to offer yourself an incentive. A shopping spree, or a weekend getaway are always good suggestions.

Happy New Year!